Since the 1980s, when she and her husband Ray founded Dermalogica, a brand that would ultimately transform the professional skincare industry, Jane Wurwand has operated on the premise that human beings are uniquely designed to support one another.
Much like Dermalogica grew to help launch the careers of thousands of esthetics professionals over the years, the brand’s chief visionary harnessed its success to create entrepreneur-supporting initiatives such as FITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship) and the Wurwand Foundation. In 2018, the Wurwand Foundation partnered with the Opportunity Fund to launch FOUND/LA, an initiative that aims to lift L.A.-based entrepreneurs and their communities.
With that in mind, the foundation is providing a $50,000 grant to support the Business Honors Small Business Consulting Program at CSUN’s David Nazarian College of Business and Economics. Working within this program, 30 to 50 CSUN Business Honors students will consult with small-business owners in the San Fernando Valley to help them overcome impediments to their success. In so doing, the students learn and form relationships while the businesses and their communities benefit.
Wurwand credits the CSUN students she met at her on-campus speaking engagement last year with driving the decision to fund the program. “It was actually the single persuading thing in choosing to work with CSUN,” she said. “I was just blown away by the students. I thought, ‘This is the energy, this is the hunger, this is the tenacity that makes successful entrepreneurs.’”
She also feels that CSUN’s bright and enthusiastic students are uniquely qualified to help boost local businesses, noting, “If the student who comes in to consult with that entrepreneur who’s a woman, who’s a minority, who’s an immigrant, understands their story and their journey, that relationship is going to be much more effective.”
Much like their customers, entrepreneurs need a sense of connection to something bigger, Wurwand said. She remembers only too well what it was like as an immigrant from the United Kingdom to start a business in a new country with “$14,000 and not even a Sears credit card.”
The CSUN consulting program, she notes, addresses the isolation that so many entrepreneurs experience. “The education those business owners receive can open them up to other opportunities, within their own businesses and in partnerships with other businesses,” Wurwand said. “They become part of a like-minded community of entrepreneurs.”
Wurwand’s activities have not gone unnoticed. In 2016, President Obama appointed her a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, and she has served as a special advisor to the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneur’s Council. She currently serves on the Board for the Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at The Anderson School of Business Management at UCLA.